I love science. I never get to do enough science, and I am always happy when I do it. Moral of the story: I need to do more science. Yesterday was no exception. I did a science lesson about choosing where to dig a well (from Mystery Science, which I also love) using evidence. I was so impressed with the level of discussion that I heard from my students, including a heavy usage of evidence to support their reasons and explanations. Despite the fact that this lesson wasn’t “hands-on” (aka nothing exploded), the class was engaged from the beginning of the activity to the end.
Mystery Science lessons start with a question (our question was: When you turn on the faucet, where does the water come from?). There is always a situation that Doug (the narrator/creator) explains to students using video. Throughout this background information, there are opportunities for students to stop and discuss what they are thinking and wondering about. Even my 5th grade students find these lessons interesting, even if Doug is a little silly (I think they like that too).
Then, there is a task for the students to complete. Yesterday, they were pioneers, wanting to build a new town, but they didn’t have a readily-available source of water. They had to talk to the mapmaker, naturalist, and miner to get information on the landforms, plants, and rocks in a variety of sites. Then, they had to evaluate the effectiveness of six different locations in which to build a town; they chose the best one using the evidence and had to defend their choice. Science, evidence-based decision-making, rocks, plants, landforms, writing, discussion: this lesson had it all.